Monthly food benefits are awarded through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). There are various reasons you may be denied food assistance benefits, such as failing to meet citizenship requirements, residency requirements, not submitting required documents, exceeding the income limits or receiving benefits in another state. If you're application is denied, you have the right to ask why. You can appeal the decision if you don't agree or feel an error was made.
Not Meeting Eligibility Requirements
You must be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen, which is someone who is eligible based on his immigration status. Legal immigrants and qualified aliens are eligible.
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Although SNAP is available in every state, you must be a resident of the state where you're applying for benefits. You need to produce documents that proof your residency, such as a driver's license, lease agreement or utility bills.
If you're an adult without dependent children, you may be required to work or to be actively seeking work to receive benefits. You may be excluded if you are pregnant or deemed physically or mentally unfit for employment. The work requirement isn't mandatory in every state.
Exceeding Income and Asset Limits
SNAP limits your gross income to 130 percent of the federal poverty level. There are certain deductions that help lower your countable income, such as a 20 percent deduction for earned wages. If you exceed the limit for your household size, you won't qualify.
There are also asset restrictions in the majority of states. Your countable resources can't exceed $2,250, as of publication. If someone in the household is over age 60 or disabled, the limit is $3,250. Your home, one vehicle per adult, retirement plans, furniture, jewelry and personal possessions are excluded. However, if your cash on hand, bank accounts, investment accounts, real estate or other property exceeds the asset limit, you'll be denied benefits.
Felony Drug Convictions
Under federal law, a felony drug conviction after August 22, 1996, disqualifies you from SNAP benefits indefinitely. State laws vary on the length of time or the requirements for receiving SNAP after a drug conviction.
SNAP Fraud or Receiving Benefits in Another State
If you were convicted of SNAP fraud, your benefits may suspended temporarily or permanently. SNAP fraud includes lying about your household members, income, assets, employment or other information. Fraud also includes selling or trading your SNAP benefits for cash. You are also unable to receive SNAP in more than one state at a time.
You must submit all requested documents, including proof of identity, Social Security cards, birth certificates, pay stubs, W-2 forms, tax returns and bills. If you don't submit every documents required for your case, your application may be denied.
An interview with your assigned case worker is also required in most states. Generally, the interview is held in person or over the phone. They'll just verify the information you reported on your application and address any issues that need clarification.
Appealing the Decision
If you want to appeal the decision, you can submit a written request to your local SNAP administering agency or department of human services. In your letter, explain why you disagree with the decision and provide any supporting evidence or documents you have. Once the appeal request is received, your application is looked at and reviewed again to determine if an error was made. States generally allow 90 days from the date of the denial to appeal the decision.